Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer. RCC usually begins as one tumor, but can progress into multiple tumors in one or both kidneys at the same time. There are different types of renal cell carcinoma, depending upon how they look microscopically. Most of the cells will have a clear or pale appearance. How the cells appear under a microscope can help determine if they are genetically inherited and what type of treatment will be necessary.
Most Common Signs and Symptoms of RCC
Symptoms may be produced as a result of tumor growth and/or kidney functions. They will appear in your lower back, or may show up in your urine color changes. Blood in the urine, or hematuria, may cause color changes and is one of the most common symptoms in both men and women. It can appear red, pink or various shades of brown. Occasionally people may report a loss of appetite or weight that is not the direct result of dieting. A less common sign can be back pain. This is more common in men and women over the age of forty. This type of pain can range from a sharp stabbing pain to a dull ache and can take place above the bottom and below the ribs, though some people may describe it as side pain. Abdominal masses in the lower back or side may be found as a result of the cancer. Your doctor will recommend and order diagnostic and/or imaging tests to detect the cause of the growth. Occasionally a biopsy may need performed. People have also reported feeling tired or fatigue that interferes with day to day activities. Anemia may also occur which can contribute to the fatigue and also create a feeling of dizziness, pale complexion and a shortness of breath.
Risk Factors for Kidney Cancer
Researchers have found several risk factors that could potentially increase your chances for developing kidney cancer. Having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will definitively get the disease, but it can increase your chances. Some people may have no known risk factors, but may still get the disease. Others may have genetic or inherited factors which contribute unfavorably. As you age, your chances of getting kidney cancer increase. Smoking and obesity are life style factors which can increase your chances for acquiring the disease, as is high blood pressure. Carcinogenic exposures in the work place can also be a factor, like being exposed to organic solvents or cadmium. Certain medicines such as Phenacetin and Diuretics may be linked to a small increase in the risk of RCC. RCC is almost twice as common in men as in women.
Prevention and Diagnosis of RCC
Because pain may not be felt or tumors may remain smaller, it is possible that kidney cancer may not be detected until its more advanced stages. Routine screenings for tumors isn’t a common practice and there are no screenings for people who are not at an increased risk for the disease. It is common however, to have a urine test at your annual check-up to screen for blood in your urine. This can help with early detection. People who are at a greater risk will be screened by their doctors periodically and early detection can lead to cures.
Kidney Cancer Treatment Options
After diagnosis of RCC, your team of doctors and specialists will help you decide which treatment options are best for you. This may include considering your overall health, the stage of your cancer and your lifestyle. You may consider potential side effects, relief of symptoms and potentiality of curing your disease. Treatment options may include radiation or chemo-therapies, surgery, immunotherapy or ablation, holistic or targeted therapies. What will be most important is finding the plan with your team of doctors for what will work best for you, and if you are able, getting a second opinion is always a best health practice.